Last month (February, 2014) West Virginia Culture and History banned Grace Pritt, a Hurricane High student from reciting my poem “Black Diamonds” at the Governors Arts Awards. The poem honors the widows of the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster.
Yep. Got the email to prove it. The email said:
“I really hate to do this to you (Grace), but because your poem deals with coal and many state representatives will be there, our director wants you to choose a different poem.”
It was a coal blooded attempt at censorship.
State officials later changed their decision in what they call a “miscommunication” and allowed the young poet, to read my poem. You can watch Grace recite the poem here: Grace Pritt recites “Black Diamonds”
Friends of Poetry used social media activism to advocate for the poem to be read by Grace. Our efforts landed on the front page of The Gazette and several national on-line publications. It was poetry in motion.
As we approach the anniversary of the April 5th Upper Big Branch disaster, I decided to publish the poem in a broadside designed by a West Virginian from my home town somewhere on a motorcycle in the USA, Houston McIntyre of of HHM Creative. The poem, to date, has only been shared via live audiences, including my 2013 reading of it in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
I hope you will print this broadside, read and share. I hope in some small way this will keep the memory of the miners alive. I hope in some way it will counter recent propaganda that suggests Massey Energy is without fault in the Upper Big Branch tragedy.
*I am not anti coal-industry. I am for protecting human lives and our environmental landscape.
Please share “Black Diamonds for Mrs. Sweet Genie Lynch”
*West Virginia disclaimer